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Bible Commentaries
Romans 10

Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary for Schools and CollegesCambridge Greek Testament Commentary

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Verses 1-99

Ch. 10:1 21 . Israel has rejected a salvation whose universal intention, and yet partial acceptance, was foretold by the law and the prophets

1 . my heart’s desire ] Fully in the Gr., the preference indeed of my heart . The “ indeed ” suggests a “ but ” to follow. This does not occur, but is implied: St Paul’s choice and prayer contrast with the present state of Israel. The word rendered “ desire ” is elsewhere in N. T. almost always used of the “ good pleasure ” of God. It thus means here not a longing but a choice , deliberate and decided; St Paul, as far as in him lies, decides for Israel’s good; a decision coming out in prayer to the Giver.

for Israel ] MSS., &c., give simply for them as the better reading. The reference of the pronoun is obvious.

that they might be saved ] Lit., simply, unto salvation . His choice, and consequent petition, take that direction .

2 . For ] The connexion is, that they seem to be, but are not, in the way to salvation; and that this stirs up his affectionate and anxious longing that they may find it.

record ] witness; as one who so intimately knows them and their state of conscience and will.

zeal of God ] So lit. The genitive implies that the zeal is in close connexion with, and directed towards, Him. So “faith of God” (Gr. of Mark 11:22 ). Jewish jealousy for the Law, Temple, Scriptures, &c. eagerness to proselytize hatred of Christian renegades is all implied here; all being connected, rightly or mistakenly, with the true God, and intended, more or less, to “do Him service.” Observe that St Paul gives them full credit for sincerity, and yet does not look on their sincerity as a ground of safety . His true generosity had in it no false “liberalism.” The Jews (like himself of old, 1 Timothy 1:13 ,) acted “ignorantly in unbelief;” but their “ignorance,” in face of offered knowledge, was their crime; and so their misguided zeal was indirectly sinful.

knowledge ] Lit. full knowledge . (German, Erkenntniss .) Same word as 1:28, 3:20. The word is appropriate, for it was just the full knowledge of the true God as God in Christ which they lacked. Their knowledge of God impelled them to persecuting zeal exactly because it was not full knowledge. (See Acts 13:27 .) So it is with all persecution in the name of the true God.

3 . being ignorant of ] not knowing: the verb refers back to the “knowledge” just before mentioned.

God’s righteousness ] His acceptance of the sinner as righteous, for Christ’s sake. See on 1:17.

going about ] seeking .

to establish ] Same word as Hebrews 10:9 . They sought to make it good enough to stand (in the judgment). On Jewish theories of merit, see Appendix A.

have not submitted themselves ] Lit., and better, did not submit; perhaps with reference to the definite ideal occasion of the first appearance of the Gospel amongst them. The Gr. verb is passive in form, but may bear a middle meaning; and so probably here, as in E. V. For an illustration of this “submission” see 1 Peter 1:2 , where the election of the Father and the holy influences of the Spirit lead to “ obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” Acceptance of the one “hope set before us,” that of the Cross, is an act of submission as well as of trust. Human pride and human reason both, in different ways, have to bow before the Crucified.

4 . For Christ , &c.] The connexion is that the conduct of the Jews was a total mistake of their own Revelation; for He whom they rejected was no accidental or alien intruder, but “the End of the Law.” The ver. may be closely, and better, rendered; For the end of the Law is Christ, unto righteousness, to everyone that believeth; the whole idea conveyed by the words from “Christ” to “believeth” being the “end of the Law.”

the end of the law ] Cp. for the phrase 1 Peter 1:9 , “the end of your faith;” i.e. what your faith leads up to. So here Christ our Justification was what the Law (the preceptive Revelation by Moses) led up to, both prophetically by its types and predictions, and preparatively by its sin-discovering and inexorable demands. (See for the latter respect, ch. 7.) The words are capable of the sense “the close of the Law,” i.e. “He who brings it to an end.” But this is not the aspect of the matter in this context, nor in the Epistle as a whole.

for righteousness ] unto righteousness; in order to be “The Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6 ). See on 1:17; &c.

5 . For ] The connexion is that the Law led up to Christ both by prescribing a condemnatory standard as its own, and by mysteriously suggesting the nearness and freeness of the Gospel.

describeth ] Lit. writeth .

That the man , &c.] Leviticus 18:5 . Cp. Deuteronomy 27:26 ; Jeremiah 11:1-10 ; and, as a commentary, Galatians 3:10-13 , and the rest of that chapter.

6 . But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh ] The “righteousness of faith” is here equivalent to “the righteousness of God.” So 4:11, 13. Here, by a striking personification, not unlike that of the Divine Wisdom in the Proverbs, Justification is said to speak, in the words of Deuteronomy. In St Paul’s view “the Word of God” indeed “ liveth ,” with a life which gives an almost personality to its doctrines. Perhaps he avoids the phrase “ Moses speaketh” because the terms of the legal covenant have just been quoted as uttered by him (ver. 5).

Say not in thine heart ] The original of the quotations here is Deuteronomy 30:12-14 . The form of the quotation is free; but nevertheless St Paul really employs the passage as a proof, and does not merely adapt it to his purpose. For the very point of his argument just here is that, in and by the Law , Christ is suggested and announced; and if he merely adapted Mosaic words to express his own thought, this point would be missed. Alford has some admirable remarks on the passage: he argues that the practical import of the passage in Deuteronomy is that the Law, as the Revelation of God’s will, is not an unintelligible mystery to man, but a thing that can be known and loved; but that, if so, then à fortiori this is true “of Him who is the end of the law, and of the commandment to believe in Him, which (1 John 3:23 ) is now God’s commandment .” St Paul assumes that the O. T. is fall of Christ (Messiah;) and so it is no wonder to him to see in this Mosaic passage a divinely-designed suggestion of His exaltation, humiliation, and gospel, under words having another immediate reference.

in thine heart ] Words not in Heb. or LXX., but meaning what the Heb. (“that thou shouldest say ”) means; the “speaking” of thought .

Who shall ascend , &c.] This and the next question come of anxiety and perplexity: q. d., “In order to be saved, have I to bring the necessary Manifestation of God’s will from Heaven or Hades? Have I to procure Incarnation and Resurrection?” “No; all is now done; the Person and the Work are complete, and ready. As at Sinai, so in the Gospel, God has done His part unasked; and now thy part is to accept and own His Son as thy Justification.”

that is , &c.] The Apostle, guided by the Holy Ghost, explains the innermost intention of the Holy Ghost as He spoke by Moses. What was the meaning of Moses, consciously to himself, is only part of the question.

to bring Christ down ] In His Incarnation.

7 . Who shall descend , &c.] The Heb. has “Who shall go over (or on ) the sea?”; the LXX., “to the other side of the sea?” St Paul takes the sea, as surely Moses took it, to be the antithesis of “heaven” the “great deep; ” and thus the idea is of exploring depth rather than breadth. The Jerusalem Targum on Deuteronomy has a remarkable paraphrase: “Neither is the law beyond the great sea, that thou shouldest say, O that we had one like Jonah the prophet, to descend into the depths of the sea, and bring it to us!” (Etheridge’s Translation.) To Moses, sky and sea were suggestive of heights and depths of supernatural mystery. St Paul finds in this use of them the latent truth of the special Height of Christ’s pre-existent majesty and the special Depth of His entrance at death into the world of souls; and so sees here an inspired declaration that this His Descent and Ascent were so “finished” as to make the means of salvation a prepared and present reality to the believing soul, which is asked (thanks to Divine mercy) not to elaborate, but to accept, the “righteousness of God” in the Incarnate and Risen Christ.

8 . The word ] More precisely, the utterance ; i.e. of the terms of the covenant. Alike the elder and later Covenants were not obscure enigmas, but could be recited by human lips and assented to as “just and good” by human hearts.

that is , &c.] See last note but one on ver. 6. Here again St Paul sees in the words of Moses a divinely-meant adaptation to the case of the New Covenant as well as to that of the Old.

the word of faith ] the utterance of faith ; or, to expand the brief phrase, “the statement of terms of justification by faith;” the message whose burden is Faith.

9 . that if thou shalt , &c.] Here the contents of the “utterance” are given in more detail.

confess with thy mouth ] i.e., practically, “submit to and own Him as supreme for thee.” See, for the demand of such “confession,” Matthew 10:32 ; Luke 12:8 . For all adult converts, this was an important feature of Baptism. In all cases, it is to be a test of the intelligence and reality of the faith of which it is a fruit. “ Confession ” is here put before “believing,” because in Deuteronomy “the mouth” had been named before “the heart.” In the order of experience, of course, faith precedes confession.

the Lord Jesus ] Better, Jesus as Lord ; i.e., as Supreme and Eternal; the all-blessed Son. Cp. 1 Corinthians 12:3 ; where light is thrown on the deep reality and significance of the confession meant here. St Paul here refers back to the “who shall ascend?” of ver. 6: Jesus, as Lord, is He “who is in Heaven,” (John 3:13 ,) who came thence, and is the way thither.

that God hath raised him , &c.] Cp. Hebrews 13:20 ; where the “bringing again of the Great Shepherd from the dead,” by the Father , is the full and final proof that the Father is the God of Peace; i.e. of Reconciliation, of Justification. See too above, 4:24, 25, 5:1; and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 . The belief in the Resurrection here is not merely historical belief, (which yet is indispensable to all other belief in it,) but “heart” belief; the perception and cordial embrace of what the Resurrection reveals and imports as to the Risen One and His work. Here, obviously, the “who shall descend?” of ver. 7 is referred to.

10 . For with the heart , &c.] The “ for ” introduces a further explanation; in which the special workings of belief and confession are noticed.

man believeth ] Lit. it is believed ; “belief is exercised.” So just below, it is confessed .

righteousness ] i.e., practically, Justification. See last note but two.

unto salvation ] i.e. final salvation; the “end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.” (1 Peter 1:9 .) The “confession with the mouth” represents in fact the whole process by which the Christian, in his life on earth, owns and obeys Christ as his Lord; refuses to “deny Him” in the evil world. It thus stands here for the “narrow path” along which the justified move to their promised and assured home. Faith indeed “saves:” the Christian, in every sense, “ lives by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20 ). But his “life” is manifested in obedience , which alone (whatever be the influence which leads him to it and keeps him in it) is the path to heaven. See Ephesians 2:8-10 .

11 . the scripture ] Already quoted, 9:33; see notes.

believeth ] Here faith alone is mentioned, and so through the rest of the context. Confession of Christ as Lord, the fruit and sequel of faith, was an incident only in the argument.

12 . For there is no difference ] The same phrase (with precisely opposite reference) as 3:22. The “ for ” here refers to the “whosoever” of ver. 11; and this refers to the truth, suggested through the whole passage here, of the “nearness” and freedom of salvation, which, as revealed in Christ, needed no advantage of Jewish privilege in order to reach it. Belief and confession were as “near” to Greek as to Jewish hearts and lips. On “ Greek ” see note, 1:16.

for the same Lord , &c.] Better, for the same Lord is [Lord] of [them] all; abounding in wealth unto all , &c. Cp. 3:30, and note.

rich ] In “goodness,” to pardon and accept. See Isaiah 55:7 . The word “wealth” respects both the splendour of the gift and its sufficiency for “whosoever will,” however numerous the suppliants.

call upon him ] appeal to Him . The Gr. is same word as Acts 25:11 , Acts 25:12 . See also Acts 7:59 ; where Stephen’s “appeal” is “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” The “appeal” here is to the Redeemer as our Justification.

13 . For whosoever , &c.] “ Whosoever ” refers back to “all” in ver. 12. St Paul here quotes (almost verbatim with LXX.) Joel 2:32 ; (Heb., 4:5;) where the whole prediction is distinctly Messianic, and includes a reference to “the remnant whom the Lord calleth.” See Acts 2:21 for a closely parallel use by St Peter of that passage.

14 . How then , &c.] This is an argument for the evangelization of the heathen, as against the jealous reserve of Pharisaic Judaism. Q. d., “The prophets announce a salvation for all who turn to Messiah; but these must first believe Him to be able to save; but believers must first be hearers; therefore there must be preachers, missionaries, sent out from the possessors of the true faith.” All this proves that a large proclamation of Messiah to the Gentiles, by Jewish missionaries, (as Paul,) was in perfect accord with the prophecies.

15 . except they be sent ] Q. d., “If they be not sent, if they are held back by misguided jealousy, how can the predicted evangelization take place?” If Rabbinism were right, were in accordance with God’s will, in its practical denial of hope to the Gentiles, then missionary work, such as foretold, would be impossible; there could be no commission for it.

as it is written ] Isaiah 52:7 . The quotation varies from LXX., but is nearly with the Heb. The context in Isaiah points rather to “good tidings” to Israel than from Israel. But (1) the tidings is “Thy God reigneth;” and of this no greater proof could, or can, be given than the universal spread of the kingdom of Messiah; (and see just below, 52:10, “all nations,” “all the ends of the earth;”) and (2) it is clear from the drift of many N. T. quotations that a reference to the “Israel of God” (the true Church of Christ) underlies the primary Jewish reference of very many of Isaiah’s prophecies. Thus St Paul sees here a prediction of the “beauty” of the tidings of that Salvation which was “of the Jews,” and is now for Jew and Gentile alike. See Ephesians 2:17 . In the Heb. the proclaimer is single; “ him that bringeth, &c.”

Some editors omit the words “that preach the gospel of peace;” but without sufficient reason. Probably St Paul had in view the previously-expounded “ peace with God,” enjoyed by the true Israel.

16 . But they have not all obeyed the gospel ] i.e. the gospel, or good tidings, just specified; that of “peace.” Here St Paul meets from prophecy the supposed objection that the message had only partially succeeded. Innumerable Gentiles had rejected it: was not this an indication that the messengers had no commission? No: Isaiah himself had prophetically deplored just such seeming scantiness of acceptance for Messiah’s message.

have not obeyed ] Better, did not obey . The apostolic evangelization of the Gentiles is viewed as ideally past.

Esaias saith ] Isaiah 53:1 ; quoted also, with special reference to Jewish unbelief, John 12:38 .

17 . So then faith , &c.] In this verse, which forms a parenthesis of thought, St Paul uses the quotation just made in a new reference; not now to the fact of unbelief , but to the means of faith . Isaiah’s words imply that the “report” of Messiah’s messengers was the appointed means for the conveyance of faith (“who hath believed? ”) in Messiah. But this faith was (see above, ver. 11,) for Gentiles as well as Jews. Therefore Gentiles as well as Jews must have the “report” carried to them .

hearing ] Same word in Gr. as that rendered report just above. See margin of E. V.

by the word of God ] i.e. either “ by His order ,” or “ by (the delivery of) His message; ” “by the utterance of truth from and about Him.” The latter is on the whole more likely, both grammatically and by the context, where the necessity of evangelization is the main point. A various reading, but not decisively supported, is “by the word of Christ .”

18 . But I say ] Here the connexion recurs to ver. 16, after the parenthetic inference from the quotation there made. Isaiah had said “Who hath believed?” St Paul now quotes again to shew that this means anything but “Who hath heard? ” Prophecy contemplated a world-wide preaching , whatever might be the limits of believing .

Have they not heard? ] Better, Did they not hear ? See on ver. 16.

Yes verily ] Same word in Gr. as that rendered Nay but , 9:20. It is corrective; the hearing was not only wide, but world-wide.

their sound , &c.] Here Psalms 19:4 is quoted, (18:4, LXX.,) verbatim with the LXX., and closely with the Heb. The Heb. word rendered “ sound ” means precisely “line” or “chord;” probably in the sense of a musical note, and specially a key-note the basis of the strain. The words are not formally introduced as a quotation, but no doubt are really such; not merely an adaptation. In the world-wide message of the stars concerning God, St Paul is led to see a Divine intimation of the world-wide message of His Gospel. Natural Religion was but the parable and forerunner of the final Revelation. The past tense is the past of prophecy; the purpose is regarded as fulfilled. Q. d., “Were not all men, in the Divine intention, hearers? Yes, verily: prophecy regarded them as such.” By the date of this Epistle, vast tracts of the then “world” were penetrated by the “word of God.” But this is not the strict reference of the past tense in the quotation, which points to the completeness of the Divine purpose .

19 . But I say , &c.] Another objection is anticipated and met, (as indeed it has been already met, less explicitly,) viz., that Israel had no prophetic warning of the Gentiles’ enlightenment and their own unbelief.

know? ] i.e. “know the prospect” of the spread of Messiah’s Gospel, and their own rejection of it.

Moses saith ] Deuteronomy 32:21 ; verbatim with LXX. and Heb., except that “ you ” is substituted for “ them ,” probably to make the reference unmistakable. The words occur in the sublime prophetic Song of Moses, so full of the mysterious future of both judgment and mercy for Israel. The point of the sentence (see the whole of the verse in Deut.) clearly is that the God of Israel would adopt other nations as Israel had adopted other gods. The clause is more strictly rendered Moses is the first to say . But the difference is not important.

no people … a foolish nation ] i.e., probably, in the opinion of Israel . Israel had taken up deities despised of God; He would take up a people despised of Israel. At the same time the description would be true of the Gentiles in respect of their lack of previous privilege and revelation.

20 . But Esaias is very bold ] Moses had not specified how the heathen should be the cause of jealousy and anger to Israel. But Isaiah says, in so many words, that they shall find and know God, and so become His people.

I was found , &c.] Isaiah 65:1 ; almost verbatim with LXX., but the two clauses are inverted; perhaps to emphasize the decisive word “I was found.” The Heb. is rendered by Kay, “I have let myself be enquired of by them that asked not; I have let myself be found of them that sought me not.” The rest of the verse in Isaiah is conclusive for the reference to the Gentiles. The past tenses both in the Heb. and Gr. refer to the Divine view of the whole experience of Gentiles and Israel as regards the message of mercy.

21 . to Israel ] Better, with respect to Israel .

All day long , &c.] Isaiah 65:2 ; verbatim with LXX., but with slight variation of order of words. The phrase is parallel to “rising up early and sending,” (Jeremiah 7:13 , Jeremiah 7:25 , &c.,) and wonderfully describes the Divine perseverance.

stretched forth my hands ] In entreaty and welcome. Cp. Proverbs 1:24 .

disobedient and gainsaying ] An expansion of the one word “ rebellious ” in the Heb. It is important to notice, side by side with strong assertions of Divine Election, these equally strong assertions of human resistance and Divine kindness.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Romans 10". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/romans-10.html. 1896.
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